We All Can Win gives small businesses a helping hand in Milford

MILFORD — Felecian Nyame and Melissa Francis take a different approach to helping other small businesses succeed.

We All Can Win started as a pop-up shop allowing businesses to showcase their work in the mall's center court.

"We wanted to create an environment where small businesses could come together and benefit from each other," said Nyame.

Over six months, We All Can Win started doing pop-up shops for small businesses every other weekend, which became popular and successful.

"We talked to the mall and decided to get a storefront for We All Can Win," said Nyame. "The mall agreed, and we started on a lease."

Francis said they now do a pop-up shop there every weekend.

"The feedback from vendors drove us to get a storefront location," she said. "These types of pop-ups are not something you get regularly. It's not just a pop-up where you make sales but also to come together as a business community to network and encourage each other."

What separates We All Can Win from the Milford Chamber of Commerce and the Black Business Alliance, which are also in the Connecticut Post Mall, is small businesses can use their storefront location to have a pop-up on one of the weekends.

The chamber's and alliance's "specialty is to help businesses who are part of the organization in terms of grant writing, networking," said Nyame. "We have vendors come, and we host the vendors in our space so they can have their storefront in the mall."

"We make it an affordable cost because to have a space in the mall on our own or one of the carts in the center is expensive," added Francis. "We created this space in a large traffic area and rent at an affordable cost because running a small business is hard and difficult, and things can be expensive."

The idea came about because, being small business owners, they thought how beneficial it would have been to have a spot in the mall when they were both starting their businesses.

"I thought if I'm having difficulty getting a spot in the mall, I can imagine how many other small businesses find it hard as well," said Francis. "So why not create a space where other small business owners can take advantage of that."

"It's also good to have a personal touch and connect with people," added Nyame. "When they can ask you questions, and you're able to give them the answer they want instead of having a virtual experience is important."

The duo also wanted to allow small businesses to take advantage of the crowds shopping for the upcoming holidays and future special days like Mother's Day.

"We also have a pop-up shop for kids," said Francis. "We try to help to provide a space for young entrepreneurs who have things they want to sell, and the next young entrepreneurs pop-up shop is Nov. 12."